Healthy Eyes

Frequently Asked Questions

8. Why does wearing sunglasses protect my vision?

Sunglasses are a great fashion accessory, but their most important job is to protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Some of the sun’s effects on the eyes include

  • cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens that can blur vision. An estimated 20% of cases are caused by extended UV exposure.
  • macular degeneration, resulting from damage to the retina that destroys central vision. Macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the United States.
  • pterygium (ter-RIDGE-ee-uhm), a tissue growth over the white part of the surface of the eye that can alter the curve of the eyeball, causing astigmatism.

The best sunglasses are those that block out 99 to 100 percent of both UV-A and UV-B radiation.

(Watch the short video clip for more details about the best sunglasses for eye protection. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)